In late 2006, I bought Taking Up the Runes: A Complete Guide to Using Runes in Spells, Rituals, Divination, and Magic by Diana L. Paxson. It has sat on a bookshelf, virtually untouched, since then. Now this is hardly the only book that has lingered in my apartment for years, unread. I don’t seem to be capable of reducing my to-read pile below 180 books, and it’s currently closer to 200. But with this book, its very size was a deterrent. Taking Up the Runes covers just about every aspect of runelore, which makes it fairly large. It’s over 415 pages long, 1⅜” thick, and, despite being a paperback, weighs 1¼ pounds. Any time I thought about reading it, I’d pick it up, decide that it would be better suited for reading at home (where I could rest it on a table instead of trying to support it in my lap on the bus), and put it back on the shelf. But then I never chose it as the book to read at home because it was so thick that it would take forever to get through and be a pain to hold open with one hand (I tend to read when eating). And so, it sat, unread, year after year.
A couple of weeks ago, I was poking around on Amazon trying to find new offerings to feed the Kindle. At one point, I searched “runes” and Taking Up the Runes came up. And the thought lodged itself in my brain: Get it! You’ll read it if it’s on the Kindle.
I argued fiercely with myself: Are you crazy? You already own it. Do you seriously want to buy it twice? Read the copy you already spent money on!
The little voice would not be dissuaded: You’ve had that book for over four years and you haven’t read it. You worry that it’ll get damaged in your backpack. Maybe it won’t even fit in the backpack. The type is too small to read without reading glasses and you hate using them on the bus. You’ll never be able to hold it comfortably in your lap. Admit it: YOU WILL NEVER READ THE PRINT EDITION.
Which is the lesser waste of money: to buy a book once and not read it, or to buy two copies and at least read one of them?
Reader, I bought the e-book. And finished it this evening.